Party Awards: Anton Georgiou and the Brent Liberal Democrats – winning against the odds

Next in our celebration of this year’s party awards winners is the Dadabhai Naoroji Award, given to the local party which has done most to promote its BAME members to public office.

You can watch the whole party awards ceremony here and the full submission for Anton and the Brent Lib Dems is under the cut.

At the end of January 2019, Anton Georgiou and the Brent Liberal Democrats won the Alperton by-election taking the seat from Labour on a 28% swing and once again gaining a foothold on their local Council. Anton now serves as the only Liberal Democrat on Brent Council, the first representative from the party in a number of years. The by-election was called at the end of December, after the bruising general election campaign, but Anton and the team decided early on that the seat was winnable with the right campaign and with the right message.

The by-election campaign began in earnest days after general election polling day. Anton’s first round of leaflets and his Alperton Survey were delivered across the ward throughout the Christmas holidays – except for on Christmas Day!

In early January momentum was being built, with a campaign launch visit by the leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey and party President Mark Pack. Over the course of the short, but intense campaign, Anton and the Brent Liberal Democrats welcomed hundreds of party activists from across London and further afield. As with most by-elections the party rallied around Anton’s candidacy. It was clear for those who visited and campaigned in the ward why it was so important to win. The neglect local people had faced for many years by the Labour Party was there for all to see. The ward also had a special significance for the Brent local party. It was first contested by the former leader of the Brent Liberal Democrat group Paul Lorber, himself a Councillor in Sudbury ward for 32 years, in the 1970’s and was won by the late Mike Harskin in 1990. Following Mike’s sudden and tragic passing, Daniel Brown won Alperton in 1992 and held it until 2014. Having the historic Liberal Democrat presence in the ward was hugely helpful, as Anton and campaigners found out whilst speaking to local residents who fondly remembered delivery of Focus and having a hard working Liberal Democrat Councillor representing them.

However, winning in January 2020 was still an uphill battle. By 2018 the Liberal Democrats had fallen in a distant third position in Alperton with just 10% of the vote and Labour were close to 60%. Despite some doubts that the victory could be pulled off, Anton and his team devised a campaign strategy that sought to reach out to all voters, all communities with targeted messaging and a focused door knocking plan. Tens of thousands of leaflets were delivered and thousands of doors were knocked, there wasn’t a single day during the campaign when Anton wasn’t in Alperton leading a campaign session or planning the next big action weekend.

By polling day, the numbers were looking good but it was clear that the mountain that the team knew existed at the start of the campaign might still be too high to climb. However, after a hugely successful polling day operation, which saw hundreds of Liberal Democrats make their way to North West London, victory was in sight. In the end, Anton was able to increase the share of the vote for the Liberal Democrats by 29.5% which equated to a 28% swing for the Liberal Democrats, and a majority of just shy of 400 votes. The Alperton by-election will surely go down in the Liberal Democrat history books as an unlikely campaign win, at an unlikely time that did a huge amount to boost party morale, particularly in London.

Anton Georgiou joined the Liberal Democrats in 2013, after a local Brent Councillor helped his Mum with an issue. He saw firsthand how caring Liberal Democrat representatives are and how hard they work for their communities. At the time his local MP was Sarah Teather, so Anton also saw up close the phenomenal work Sarah’s constituency office were doing, from dealing with asylum and housing issues to saving the local pub from development or fighting against Labour’s plans to close 6 libraries in the borough.

By 2014 Anton was selected to stand as a candidate in his home ward of Dudden Hill, where he has lived his whole life. A difficult election at a difficult time for the Liberal Democrats in London but he was able to come in fourth place just behind the three elected Labour Councillors.

Throughout the 2015 campaign Anton joined hundreds of Liberal Democrat campaigners in Hornsey and Wood Green to assist with the effort to re-elect the brilliant Lynne Featherstone. Unfortunately, this was another hard campaign for the party, but along the way Anton met many new friends in the party and was committed to helping with the fightback. He campaigned for Norman Lamb during the subsequent leadership campaign, all the while finishing his BA degree in International Relations and Global Politics.

In 2016, at 21, Anton was selected to stand as the GLA candidate for Brent and Harrow and to support Caroline Pidgeon’s bid for the Mayoralty and re-election to the Assembly. He was able to come in third with over 11,500 votes and was proud to have helped in a small way to ensure Caroline got back into City Hall.

Anton worked for European Movement UK during the summer referendum campaign, heading three nationwide campaigns: Communities for Europe, Creatives for Europe and Register to Stay (which sought to reach out to British expats across the EU). He also organised the local Brent Stronger In campaign group and campaigned with Liberal Democrats across London for Remain.

At the 2017 election Anton was selected to fight his home seat of Brent Central at the snap general election. As one of the youngest Parliamentary candidates at the election he focused his message on the negative impact leaving the EU would have on his generation, but was of course in seats like Richmond Park throughout the short campaign helping Sarah Olney’s re-election bid.

In 2019, Anton begun a role in his political hero, Norman Lamb’s, Westminster office before doing a short stint in Brussels working for Luisa Porritt, former MEP.

Throughout the 2019 general election Anton campaigned for Matt Sanders in Hampstead and Kilburn, one of the most pro-European constituencies in the country where the Liberal Democrat vote share increased significantly.
Anton now represents Alperton ward on Brent Council and is an Executive Member of LDCRE and on his local party Exec.”

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

One Comment

  • Richard Underhill 14th Oct '20 - 12:19pm

    Britain Thinks that if the leader of the Opposition were an animal he would be an eagle. Boris Johnson would be a ‘sheep’, (refer to Sir Geoffrey Howe) like being mauled by a dead sheep

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